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Vitale Bill Moving Presidential Primary Date To February Advances

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Joseph F. Vitale which would move New Jersey’s presidential primary date to the last Tuesday in February in order to make New Jersey relevant in national elections was unanimously approved by the Senate State Government Committee yesterday.

“In the immediately past presidential election, the nomination for the presidency was decided long before New Jersey voters ever got to pull a lever for their candidates of choice, be they Democrat or Republican,” said Senator Vitale. “New Jersey’s electorate has become disenfranchised by a primary system that’s left the Garden State out in the cold. We need to move the primary to make New Jersey voters relevant, so that voters can decide for themselves the best candidates without having other states decide for them.”

The bill, a Senate Committee substitute for S-550, S-1297 and S-2402, would establish a separate presidential primary from New Jersey’s traditional primary date in June, and would set the date for the presidential primary in each presidential election year to the last Tuesday in February. The move would put New Jersey near the front of the pack, requiring presidential candidates to pay more attention to New Jersey’s primary voters and potentially spurring the economy through a greater investment in advertisement during contentious primaries.

“With candidates needing a much stronger showing in New Jersey to secure the presidential nomination, our State stands to reap the benefits from greater media exposure, and a larger investment in campaign dollars into New Jersey businesses,” said Senator Vitale. “Last year, New Jersey’s role in the presidential election was relegated to nothing more than serving as a national ATM for candidates, doling out campaign cash without having a say in the final candidate. With this bill in place, New Jersey could potentially gain from greater involvement in the national political process, because candidates would have a greater campaign presence in New Jersey and would reinvest campaign cash into New Jersey’s business community.”

The bill now heads to Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee before going to the full Senate for consideration.

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